virus: Multiple meanings of faith

Reed Konsler (
Wed, 10 Feb 1999 10:51:21 -0500

>I think I would be inclined to agree if you explain what you mean
>by "faith" in this context. My feeling is that it differs from
>the use of "faith" in a religious context in kind or in degree
>or perhaps both kind and degree. I hope you can see that the fact
>that the same word is being used in both cases is bound to cause a
>(probably unnecessary) memetic immune reaction in people infected
>with <skepticism>.
>- --
>David McFadzean

Totally. I think the distinction we ought to make is between inflexible dogmatic algorithmic literalist rule following and flexible conscious intentional continious exercise of free will. A common error would be to equate science or religion with either. Each discipline can be practiced either way. I favor consciousness in all things.

I'm not certian that you can avoid the reaction. People use the word "faith" to mean many things. Defining it as one thing or another for purposes of discussion on this list is futile if, in common discourse, COV members think that everyone has to conform to those definitions (or even to make distinctions across the same axes), or else be "irrational". Each word resonates with multiple meanings and is defined in context, not according to some arbitrary lexicon. That is an irreducable element of communication. You have to imagine how something might make sense, and it might be in many different ways. There isn't one "meaning" for anything...even in mathematics.

It was that realization, you will recall, that allowed Godel to show the futility of the Hilvert program. Godel showed that elements within a formal system can have two radically divergent but equally "meaningful" interpretations. This is the critical argument in his theorm. Hofstader does a better job of explaining it in "Godel, Esher, Bach"...I especially like his new introduction for the 20th anniversary edition.

I understand what you would like me to do, but I'm not certian that creating another infrastructure is worth it. There are many cool ones out there already. I'm more interested in process than content, anyway.

I hope that doesn't make me seem too obdurate.


  Reed Konsler